Originally created 10/31/04

New deadlines, procedures will ensure election results



On Tuesday, many of us will cast our ballots in one of the most exciting elections in my lifetime. When you go to bed Tuesday night, many of you might not know the outcome of some local and national races.

On Wednesday, I hope all of you and all of your friends will pick up The Augusta Chronicle to find the election results.

I expect those results to be in the Wednesday paper, and I know you do, too. That's why we're doing everything we can to make sure the results will be in the paper you get at home or from a news rack.

We are extending deadlines, changing some internal procedures and bringing everyone in to work Tuesday night. The production department is working with the newsroom to give us the latest possible deadlines. The circulation department is working with carriers who might have to make special arrangements to get the papers delivered. Everyone at The Chronicle is focused on two things: getting the paper out as early as possible and getting as complete an election report as we can.

We have made good plans, but things can go wrong at the worst possible time. So your newspaper might be later than usual Wednesday morning. We hope not. We will do everything we can to get it to you on time.

Why would we do that? Why would we even take a chance that the papers will be delivered late and make you angry? Why not just start the press early and make sure we get it to you on time, regardless of the content?

Because we know you count on us to give you the most complete package of information that you can get anywhere.

Sure, you can get some national election results from television and cable networks Tuesday night, but the decision in some races might not come until very late.

You can get Georgia and South Carolina results from out-of-town newspapers, but their deadlines will be too early to get statewide results to Augusta. And only The Chronicle will have results from races in and around Augusta.

You can go to augustachronicle.com or other Web sites and get the latest results at any time, but that only works if you are near a computer and have time to access the Web site.

The most complete, most convenient, easiest way to get election results is still from a newspaper. Our goal is for you to be able to pick up the paper Wednesday morning, scan the front page and know the results of all the races that matter to you. We don't rely on exit polls or projections. We report results.

With high turnouts expected throughout the country, we are a little worried that it might take longer to count the votes. But computer voting and other electronic devices should speed things up considerably.

Barring a mechanical or electrical breakdown of some kind, your newspaper will have the results Wednesday morning.

Our problems with installing new equipment on our press have been well documented. Breakdowns have caused the paper to be late more times in the past six months than in all the 16 years I have been here. None of us likes that, but it's a process we have to go through. Getting complicated pieces of machinery to work together seamlessly takes countless adjustments.

The production department is doing everything possible to make those adjustments and get us back to normal.

I'm grateful to them and the circulation department for agreeing to let us work a little later Tuesday night to get the election results in. I'm also grateful to our readers for being so understanding as we work through the problems that have caused late deliveries.

I hope Wednesday will be one of those days where the newspaper is at your home when you wake up and look for it, and you won't know anything about all the feverish work that went on behind the scenes to get it there.

I have one last hope: that all of you will vote Tuesday. There is no more important duty in a democracy than to take the time to choose the candidates who best represent your positions. Whoever wins, we need to know that everyone cared enough to participate in the process.

Dennis Sodomka is the executive editor of The Augusta Chronicle.